Two GNOME applications (Builder and Text Editor) have an option to draw a faint grid in the background of the text editing window. The grid does not map neatly onto the fixed-width font.

Does this serve any purpose beyond distinguishing IDE text from other text on the desktop?

Example of grid background

(This image of GNOME Builder with a blue color scheme and grid enabled from a thread asking how to implement this in another IDE. Here it was referred to as a "graph paper background".)

  • Is it the case just with GNOME IDEs or is this a case with other text editors/IDEs as well? Commented Oct 12, 2017 at 7:12
  • @ShreyasTripathy I don't recall another example right now - it's certainly not common
    – lofidevops
    Commented Oct 12, 2017 at 10:10
  • 2
    Looking at the image you provided, the letters do actually line up. Each symbol takes up two squares. Look at all the "i" for example. It seems slightly off in terms of balancing (particularly vertical spacing) but it does tile consistently. Commented Oct 12, 2017 at 10:29

1 Answer 1


The grid does align with the monospace font -- each glyph is two blocks tall and one block wide.

It's a (not terribly effective in this case) way to help visualize the amount of indentation per line -- you can count grid spaces to determine the amount of indentation. (This is important in code: whitespace is significant in some languages, and in nearly all of them indentation is used as an organizing tool.)

Most text editors designed for code have something like this as an option (though yours is the first I've seen using a grid; the horizontal alignment doesn't really need emphasis -- and it particularly doesn't need to be cut in half as GNOME is doing. Most IDEs focus on just marking the verticals.) Here are three others using variations on the same idea -- left to right: Atom, Sublime Text, and a very outdated version of BBEdit.

enter image description here

  • I think they're cutting it at the conventional wrapping point
    – lofidevops
    Commented Oct 16, 2017 at 8:39

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